Home Business and economy Knowsley Council reports a balanced budget and investment of over £30m
Finance concept. Looking through magnifying glass to block letter word - BUDGET

Knowsley Council reports a balanced budget and investment of over £30m

by Jonathan Kearney

Knowsley Council has tonight agreed to set a balanced budget for 2024/25 which included endorsing recommendations to permanently invest £30.6m in key services and initiatives.

The investment package is possible due to the sustained growth of the Borough, which as well as enhancing the housing offer and attracting more businesses into the Borough, has also helped to create jobs for local people.

The investment package includes over £22m of additional permanent investment to meet the growing demand for Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care services.

Investment of £1.9m will be used for key services that deliver prevention and early intervention initiatives, addressing issues at an early stage and prevent escalation to social care services.

As part of the investment, there is also additional permanent funding allocated to expand capacity to manage the increase in demand for services, particularly with social care services, improvements in the speed at which residents can be discharged from hospital, funding allocated to support homelessness, leisure centres, domestic abuse support and special educational needs.

The essential work of care workers is also included in the investment package, with funding allocated to ensure that care providers remain sustainable and care workers receive a fair level of pay.

In line with the Government’s approach to funding local government, the Council is having to increase the 2024/25 Council Tax by 4.99% from April 2024 – 2% of which will be used to specifically support Adult Social Care, helping to meet the increasing demand for services.

In addition, changes to Council Tax on empty properties will also be introduced. Legislation through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill enables local authorities to apply a 100% premium against long-term empty properties after one year rather than having to wait for a property to be empty for two years. The Council has agreed to proceed with this from April 2024 which will help to reduce the number of empty homes across the Borough and help to address the increase in homelessness.

The Bill also allows local authorities to charge a Council Tax premium of 100% on second homes (those that are periodically occupied and substantially furnished but have no permanent resident). Given the high demand for homes in the borough, the premium charge will be introduced from April 2025.

In addition to the permanent funding, over £3m of one-off investments have been confirmed including additional spending on hardship support for residents, extended library opening hours, fly-tipping enforcement, £350,000 Community Grants funding, support for children with special educational needs and their families, support for healthy school meals, additional capacity to tackle issues with rats and mice and match funding for climate change adaptations to Council buildings.

The current year budget monitoring update was also presented at tonight’s full Council meeting. Whilst a deficit of £4.048m is being reported for the current year, one-off resources have been allocated to manage this deficit so a balanced final position for the year is being reported.